By Roger J. Stone Jr Jack Kemp, whose advocacy of pro-growth economics changed the Republican Party from the Party of austerity to the Party of hope and opportunity and whose polices ignited the economic boom of the 80s, had a greater impact on his country and his party than many men who became president. The former quarterback transformed the green-eyeshade thinking in the GOP and sold Ronald Reagan on the three-year, pro-growth Kemp-Roth tax cut, a stance which highlighted Reagan's political optimism and became the vehicle for a Republican resurgence after Watergate. According to a Joint Economic Committee of Congress report in 1996, the Kemp-Roth tax cuts' "Lower top marginal tax rates had encouraged taxpayers to generate more taxable income." Even President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers in wrote in a 1994 report: "It is undeniable that the sharp reduction in taxes in the early 1980s was a strong impetus to economic growth." It is easy in retrospect to identify Reagan as a tax-cutter, but it was not so cut-and-dried in 1980 when frontrunner Reagan decided to adopt the radical tax cut as the raison d'etre for his presidential campaign and for the tax policies that would ignite the country's economic boom after the failed presidency of Jimmy Carter. Many on Reagan's staff feared the opposition of more traditional economists and business leaders within the Republican Party's austerity wing. Some supply-siders like Jude Wanniski were urging Kemp to run himself, thinking Reagan too old and too unwilling to embrace supply-side economics. It was canny Reagan campaign manager John Sears who successfully brought Kemp and his tax cuts into the Reagan camp, thus co-opting a Kemp candidacy in 1980. Reagan himself endorsed the Kemp-Roth tax cuts as early as 1978, a confidence that was borne-out when Federal revenues increased every year of his Presidency. Yet Reagan aide Edwin Meese, later U.S. Attorney General, actually sounded out national columnist Robert Novak about the potential reaction if Reagan were to drop the tax cuts from his fall campaign. Kemp's early career as an off-season staffer for Governor Reagan and a surrogate for President Richard Nixon was nurtured by Herb Klein, Nixon's longtime press secretary and editor of the San Diego Union. I first met Kemp when I was working on Richard Nixon's 1972 reelection as a surrogate scheduler and was assigned to coordinate Congressman Kemp's campaign schedule for the President. Jack's Kennedyesque good looks and upbeat message made him an effective apostle of tax reduction and monetary reform as the pillars of economic growth. Kemp himself had little regard for the tactics, traditions, and rituals of American politics yet he headlined thousands of Republican dinners and fundraisers for his congressional colleagues and the Republican Party at all levels. Kemp doggedly attended these events not to promote himself but to promote the supply side agenda and a new, positive and uplifting message for the GOP. Jack saw only the good side of politics. On a late night campaign flight back to Washington from New Hampshire, Kemp told me how much he admired the Kennedys for the inspiration they instilled in Americans. Jack simply refused to believe that Bobby Kennedy engaged in some of the most vicious dirty tricks in American politics in order to win the White House for his brother Jack in 1960. Kemp's advocacy of racial equality and civil right best demonstrate that he was among the first to recognize that the Republican Party's "Southern Strategy" was morally bankrupt and that outreach to African American voters (or lack thereof) would be crucial for the future of the Republican Party. Maddeningly late, chronically disorganized, and politically naive, Kemp cared more deeply about the ideas he was advocating than he did about his own political career. He passed up races for the U.S. Senate and Governor of New York, preferring to be one of the few Congressmen in the country whose name was well known. Known for his verbosity, Kemp had a burning need to convert you to his cause as well as convince you that he was not some dumb jock. However, Kemp did not bring the same drive to his own personal political career that he demonstrated on the football field. He abhorred attack politics and the personalization of political discourse. Kemp simply refused to attack the motives of those who opposed his ideas. Kemp had a convert's tendency to "sell past the close," which infuriated some around Reagan. Many times, I saw him captivate an audience, only to lose them as his speech droned on. Kemp was as undisciplined as he was good-natured and when he was "on," he had an undeniable charisma. Unlike George H.W. Bush who was prepared to refashion his politics to be whatever was necessary to get elected, Kemp fought for supply side economics and a return to the gold standard with relentless zeal - even to the detriment of his own political career when some in the media branded him a Johnny One Note. I was one of the veterans of the Reagan 1976 campaign who believed that Kemp was the natural heir to Reagan and should have been the nominee for vice president under Reagan. It became clear that Ed Meese, Reagan aide Michael Deaver, and Reagan pollster Richard Wirthlin had poisoned Reagan against the notion of a Kemp selection by smearing Kemp with an age-old and unfounded rumor that Kemp had consorted with a small group of homosexual staffers during Reagan's first gubernatorial term. Had George H.W. Bush never become vice president, he never would have become president. Without his presidency, the course of history would be quite different. Although he never became president, Kemp had a more profound and positive impact on his Party and country than Bush, who served four years in the White House. NEXT UP - WILL THE GOP GO THE WAY OF THE WHIGS?